Of course I wanted a present. I always want presents. (You reading this, dear husband?) I just didn’t want a push present. Why the hell would I want something to remind me of the most painful experiences of my life? Of the "burning ring of fire," to quote my mother and Johnny Cash? Of the midwife telling me that I will "never look the same again" down there? A push present--no thank you. A little bauble to commemorate the births of my daughters? Absolutely!

Generally speaking, I like my jewelry to have meaning and a story behind it. (One major exception should be noted: diamonds. No history, no occasion needed. Feel free to send any and all loose diamonds you may have to me. I’ll take good care of them, I promise.) My wedding ring reminds me that I am lucky enough to share my life with my best friend. I have a gold mezuzah necklace that was a gift to my grandmother from her mother-in-law. My father gave me my watch when I graduated from college, and I have a silver ID bracelet from my sister.  So, it should come as no surprise that within a few months of becoming a mother I started thinking about getting a Mommy Necklace. 

What Does a Mommy Necklace Say?

But I was ambivalent about it, too. (No, not about the jewelry part. Never ambivalent about that. You reading this, dear husband?) I just wasn’t sure what people would think, what sort of message I would be projecting about myself. The accessories we choose to wear, along with our clothing and hairstyles send a message about who we are and what we value. Sometimes the image we portray is accurate, other times, well, not so much. For example, one might guess from my recent attire that I frequently do yoga with cats strapped to my legs. (For the record, I don’t.)

What does a Mommy necklace say about a woman? My husband was concerned that it means she has given up her identity as anything but a mother. Part of me agreed with him, and worried about this too. But part of me was tempted to point out that he didn’t seem to have the same issues when I wear my Star of David. If wearing that necklace didn’t turn me into an Orthodox Jew, why would wearing a Mommy Necklace turn me into an Obsessive Mommy? I didn’t buy it.

Still unsure what to do, I turned to my favorite sources of trusted advice: Facebook and Twitter. Not surprisingly, I got mixed responses. Some of my Mommy friends were all for it, noting that they either already had a Mommy necklace or were hoping to get one. One mother pointed out that she wears a wedding ring every day...so how is that so different from a similar piece acknowledging the other central relationships in her life? But there were also many on the other side of the fence, ranging from mothers who didn’t/couldn’t wear anything around their necks due to the strangulation risks posed by their young toddlers to mothers and non-mothers alike who noted that, well, it just wasn’t their style (to put it nicely) and that I might as well start wearing Tigger sweatshirts and purple pleated corduroys (to put it less nicely). Not much help at all.

Okay--I Want One!

In the end it wasn’t logic or advice that finally won the day. It was good old-fashioned self-pity. After an extremely long month of sinus infections (me), pink eye and ear infections (my daughters), and the stomach flu (my husband), I was done, and I wanted a present — something new or shiny to cheer me up a bit. Given that a new Subaru wasn’t going to drive itself into my yard, the necklace would suffice.

Thus the search began.  I knew I wanted a custom-made necklace made by another woman, preferably a mother, ideally a Jewish one.  I love the idea of supporting entrepreneurial mothers who are following their passions and running a business while raising their children. (Also, I haven’t got an artistic bone in my body, but I have always wanted to learn to make jewelry. I’m a bit jealous, to be honest.) There are a number of these sites available, including the work by Emily Rosenfeld and Sarah Fewell.  However, I finally chose a necklace made by Lisa Ostrin, who owns a business called Under Her Charm, and makes gorgeous jewelry in a variety of metals and designs.  She worked with me to design my perfect necklace, which I am wearing around my neck as I write this. My husband also had some input, and he loves it too. The necklace has four charms—two small sterling silver circles with my daughters’ initials on them, a larger silver circle engraved with the Sh’ma, and finally, a small wire-wrapped sapphire. The necklace is beautiful and subtle, and symbolizes how important my daughters and my Jewish faith are to me. It’s the perfect present.

Carla Naumburg

Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker. She writes the Mindful Parenting blog for PsychCentral, and her work has appeared on academic journals and a number of online magazines, including The Huffington Post, Parents.com, The Jewish Daily Forward, JewishBoston.com, and InterfatihFamily.com. Carla is currently writing a book on mindful parenting, to be published by Parallax Press in the fall of 2014. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and two daughters.